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Civil War Battlefield For Sale

September 28, 1988

EDWARDS, Miss. (AP) _ For $67,500 you can buy a slice of Civil War history: 38 acres of the battleground where Gen. Ulysses S. Grant led 33,000 Union soldiers against the Confederates in a one of the conflict’s decisive battles.

Also included in the bargain: a four-bedroom, two-bath brick house, barn, shed, dog pens, possible Yankee burial trench and an option to dig for artifacts.

Bennie Machost, an oilfield worker, knows the history of his Champion Hill property, where Grant’s forces defeated Lt. Gen. John Clifford Pemberton’s 30,000 men May 16, 1863. Grant already had taken Jackson, about 25 miles to the east. Vicksburg, another 20 miles to the west, would soon fall.

″One of the battles was fought right here,″ the 58-year-old Machost said, waving at the ridge that runs through his front yard.

″This right here was the Confederates’ left,″ added son Bernard Machost, 33, of Bolton. ″If they could have held this . ..″

The elder Machost bought the property three or four years ago. But he and his wife recently purchased a new home in Arkansas, where they plan to run a convenience store.

The family believes some of the heaviest fighting occurred on their now- peaceful 38 wooded acres.

The 8th Illinois and the 32nd Ohio regiments stormed across an ″all but impossible hollow,″ yelling fiercely as they charged the Mississippians and a supporting Georgia infantry unit, according to Edwin C. Bearss in his book ″Decision in Mississippi.″

Bernard Machost, armed with maps from Bearss’ book, believes that hollow is on the eastern side of his father’s land.

He said the front yard was where Union soldiers overran the 1st Mississippi Light Artillery, despite the refusal of Capt. Samuel J. Ridley of Gluckstadt to desert his guns.

Ridley singlehandedly continued to fire a cannon until pierced by six Union Minie balls, Bearss’ book says.

″They was begging him ‘Don’t shoot 3/8 Don’t shoot 3/8’ They was going to take him prisoner,″ Bernard Machost said. ″He wouldn’t quit shooting, so they killed him.″

The 1st Mississippi Light Artillery entered the battle with 82 men and ended up with eight. In all, 3,851 Confederates were killed, wounded or reported missing. The Union lost a total of 2,441 men at Champion Hill, according to historian Bruce Catton.

″I’ve always wondered about that,″ Bernard Machost said, pointing to a trench along the property’s western edge. ″It don’t look like it ought to be there naturally. I’ve always wondered if it might not have been a grave.″

Neither father nor son have come across any artifacts.

″I’ve always wanted to get (a metal detector) and I never did,″ Bernard Machost said.

″I wouldn’t even know what to look for,″ his father said. ″One time I thought I’d get a metal detector and find a piece of bolt or something, but I don’t have time. My time is valuable.″

He said he has refused requests to search the property, even from a cousin.

″In fact, when I see ‘em coming like they’re going to dig, I tell ‘em to get off ’cause they’re going to get shot,″ he said.

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